When a student is pledging a fraternity or sorority, often times the Greek organization will minimally investigate the student’s background to ensure that the member is an academically successful, morally responsible and sometimes athletic or philanthropic individual to ensure that the student is an appropriate addition to the Greek organization, and the Greek system as a whole.
Despite negative stereotypes that often plague the Greek community, fraternities and sororities pride themselves on the foundations that each member is socially, intellectually and morally profound and that organization members are some of the most athletic, academic, philanthropic and socially excelled students on campus.
Therefore, when 18 year-old Florida State University freshman Ashley Atchison received on online message from “Lexie” on August 31, 2010 via Facebook, who was claiming to have been assigned to screen Atchison’s past because she was pledging a sorority and specifically looking to take on new leadership roles, nobody thought that was out of the ordinary, invasive or alarming.
“They wanted to know any secrets that might come out in the future,” Atchison told NBC’s The Today Show.
Atchison then found out, after she had 12 online conversations with “Lexie” over the course of three days, sometimes lasting up to 2 hours long, that “Lexie” was not an anonymous sorority sister, but actually an online predator.
The conversations and invasive questions became strikingly bizarre, asking what kind of underwear she was wearing and “Lexie” claimed to have spoken to Atchison’s mother, which her mother refuted.
When Atchison realized she was a victim of the online predator she made a complaint to the FSU campus police, where she discovered then that nine other FSU sorority students had been conned as well. Upset, Atchison ended up withdrawing from her classes for the remaining semester and moved home, but she will be returning in the spring to a new dorm location (for safety reasons).
Key West, Florida resident 27 year-old Mitchell W. Hill has since been arrested and charged with two counts of extortion, two counts of video voyeurism and 12 counts of attempted video voyeurism, according to NBC.
Hill allegedly sexually harassed women in Alabama, Florida and Louisiana, even convincing some to undress in front of their webcams for him.
If you have been similarly victimized or have information that may help other victims, please use the following contact resources: